David Johnson: Dynasty Steal or Sunk Asset?
Hello everyone, today I will be doing a little case study on David Johnson’s 2020, the current value of David Johnson, and what to expect from him in 2021. I plan to inform you of why if you are a contending team you should 100% be buying him right now, and if you’re a rebuilding team why you should be holding. Let's just dive right in.
What we saw in 2020
In 2020 David Johnson played eleven full games. Six of these games were with Duke Johnson and for five of them, Duke did not play. We will look at these games separately from each other. First, let’s take a look at DJ’s 2020 season as a whole. From the chart below we can see that he averaged 17 opportunities, 90 yards, 5.22 yards per opportunity (Y/O), .73 TDs, and 16.1 ppg (PPR Scoring). The 16.1 ppg would land DJ squarely at RB13, he may appear as lower on some sites because he started week 9 but left early in the first quarter due to injury, so I am removing this game. Overall not a bad season, he was consistently scoring 10+ points and was a high-tier RB2 most weeks with a couple of mid RB1 weeks mixed in.
Now let’s look at his splits with and without Duke Johnson in the game, shown below. With Duke Johnson, DJ actually averaged more opportunities but was less efficient with them. Running backs like to get into a rhythm, it really helps give them a feel for the defense and allows them to take better advantage of holes and defenders. So I would think Duke coming in and interrupting DJ’s flow could lead to the decreased efficiency. But, in terms of points per game DJ was much better by himself, 18.6 w/o Duke vs 14.0 w/ Duke in the game. That 18.6 ppg without Duke would place David at RB5 overall right between Derrick Henry (20.8) and Aaron Jones (18.4). David Johnson likes to be a workhorse, 3 down running back. With the Texan's release of Duke Johnson this offseason, DJ is in line for a full workload in 2021. In the games without Duke sample, there were even very tough games vs the Ravens and Steelers that hampered his production. We can see in those other three games DJ was an absolute beast. He averaged 18 opportunities, 131 yards, 7.5 Y/O, 1 TD, and 24.4 ppg. Just awesome numbers for when he’s the lead back and not facing top 5 defenses in the league. And, the mark of 24.4 ppg would’ve ranked DJ at RB3 in 2020, between Alvin Kamara (25.1) and Dalvin Cook (24.0).
These efficiency numbers aren’t always used in the fantasy community so let’s look at some other guys that had successful seasons and compare their efficiencies. Here we will use Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor’s 2020 seasons for comparison. DJ’s per-game stats without Duke are above JT and actually pretty close to what Derrick Henry (the rushing leader and offensive player of the year) did. David Johnson’s 2020 is not being talked about like it should be and if you’re contending you need to add him to your team.
David Johnson’s Current Value
David Johnson’s value in dynasty right now is pretty low. I just recently completed a startup draft where I landed him as my RB4 and the overall RB42!! He was the RB13 last year in ppg and if you look at his games without Duke, who will be gone for 2021, he was the RB5 in ppg! Rookies were also included in the startup, if DJ was counted as a rookie he would've been the 30th one taken, pick 3.06 (12 team league). If I am a contender I am trading that for David Johnson every day of the week. He’s currently looking at a starting role again, and while he may only see 1 or 2 more years of good production he has serious top 12 RB upside with an RB20 floor in 2021. Go send offers out buying him for a mid/early 3rd if you need some RB depth. Now if you’re rebuilding I know you want these rookie picks badly. However, you need to play the waiting game. Players like David Johnson are at their lowest value at this time of the year with all of the rookie hype and no games being played. Once the season starts and DJ shows what he can do again and mid-tier teams realize they don’t have enough RB’s is when you make your move. I could definitely see his value going up to a mid/late 2nd halfway through the 2021 season when people start really making moves to solidify their playoff pushes.
What to Expect in 2021?
In 2021 I fully believe that DJ will be the starting and main RB for the Texans. Now they will most likely sign a FA or draft a couple of guys for depth and healthy competition. This team has so many holes, so little money and so little draft capital that I really doubt they’ll invest big in an RB right now. So DJ will enter 2021 as the best RB in the room and will get the majority of carries. He also managed to stay pretty healthy in 2020, he just missed a couple of games for one injury but came back a few weeks later and tore it up scoring 24.4 points per game. Go buy David Johnson while rookie hype is peaking and veteran value is low. Wait to sell him until the season is here and people are looking for those producing assets. Don’t sell until you can get at least a 2nd for him.